Homelessness for Indigenous women continues to be a big problem in in B.C
The Province has partnered with the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness Society to open 21 new supportive homes for Indigenous women who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Victoria.
“Housing is the foundation on which people build their lives, and everyone in our community deserves a safe and secure home,” said Rob Fleming, MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake. “With the help of our partners, this housing with wraparound supports will provide urgently needed homes for Indigenous women in the community, surrounded by their tradition and culture.”
Located at 833 Hillside Ave., Spaken House, also known as Flower House, is a modular two-storey apartment building with 21 self-contained units, each with a private washroom and mini kitchen. Shared amenities include an office, laundry room, commercial kitchen and a dining lounge area where residents can enjoy meals together. The Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness Society (ACEH) will operate the building and will have staff on site 24/7 to support residents.
This project is the first supportive housing of its kind in British Columbia. It provides culturally appropriate supports for Indigenous women, as well as access to teachings from Elders, traditional foods, cultural crafts and land-based healing, including programming that focuses on physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. In addition, an Elder and an “Aunty” will be onsite two days per week to provide additional one-on-one support.
“Everyone at every level has done their part to make this a reality – Spaken House is beautiful,” said Fran Hunt-Jinnouchi, executive director, ACEH. “The Aboriginal Coalition team will work diligently to ensure the environment is safe, builds on a sense of family and community and incorporates pathways to healing and recovery into the programming. Most importantly, we will celebrate the gifts the women bring to our Family Circle and support them in their journey through culture, crafts, healing ceremonies, family reunification, a meal program including traditional foods, empowerment workshops, Elder support and much more.”
Additional unique features to Spaken House include a therapeutic garden with plants and natural medicines, which will serve as a resource for healing and well-being.
“As we prepare to enter into Spaken House, my heart feels full to have witnessed this become a reality for the women moving in soon,” said Gloria Roze, Elder, ACEH. “Our people have been needing this for a long time and I hope it leads to more amazing housing successes. I have seen land-based healing work for our people in positive and profound ways. Culturally supportive housing is a pathway for the spirit and internal growth. You feel the love when you step into Spaken.”
Atira Women’s Resource Society, an experienced non-profit housing provider, helped provide supports and training to ACEH staff in creating this unique program.
“Atira has had the absolute privilege to work with the ACEH, its dedicated executive director and amazing team, as they embark on this critically important, culturally relevant, supportive housing program for First Nations, Métis and Inuit women,” said Janice Abbott, CEO, Atira. “We are grateful for the small part we have played in making this happen and look forward to working together into the future, strengthening our relationship in support of both the ACEH and the women it serves.”
Residents will begin moving into their new homes in mid-August 2020.